Whether you’ve just welcomed your first dog into your home or you’ve had puppies all your life, the question will inevitably strike you—why do dogs rub their face?
Dogs rub their faces for many reasons ranging from having fun to a serious medical issue.
We’ll take you through the ins and outs of why dogs rub their faces so you can get your puppy to the vet if they need it or smile as they frolic around on the floor.
Top 11 Reasons Why Dogs Rub Their Face
Our list will delve deep into 11 of the most common reasons for face rubbing. They can be as innocuous as itching to more serious issues, like earaches and dental pain. Let’s take a closer look!
Reason 1: They’re Itchy
Paws can only go so far with scratching an itch. So, your dog might be rubbing their face on the floor because they’re itchy.
Your dog might have a standard itch, just like their human companions may experience. However, there might be a more concerning reason for their itchiness, including:
If your dog has allergies, they’ll likely lick or bite at their paws alongside any face rubbing. They also might have red skin or hives.
In the case of external parasites like fleas, mites, and ticks, you may notice your dog itch all over their body, as these parasites rarely infect just the face. You should consult with your veterinarian about how frequently to use parasite prevention treatments, as it’ll depend on the climate where you live.
Reason 2: They’re Trying to Wipe Off Debris
Just like humans, a dog’s reaction when they feel something on their face is to wipe it off. So, if you’re wondering, “Why does my dog rub his face on the carpet?” check to see if they have anything on their face.
Dirt, water, and food are all items that can cling to your dog’s face.
In fact, it’s common to watch a dog rub their face over a carpet after a bath since they’re trying to dry it.
There’s no need to get concerned about such a situation. However, if you have a towel on hand, go ahead and give your dog’s face a gentle rub-down so they can get back to doing what they do best—playing and showering you with love.
Reason 3: They’ve Got Something in Their Eye
Can you imagine something getting into your eye and not having the precision of a finger to get it out? Since dogs don’t have this luxury, they may rub their face on the floor to get debris out of their eye.
Otherwise, they may rub their face to deal with any pain in their eye. Examples include:
- Scratched eye
- Dry eyes
- Ulcer on their cornea
If your dog has eye pain, they’ll likely display other symptoms such as keeping their eye shut or pawing at it. In these cases, you should take your dog to the veterinarian.
Reason 4: Their Collar Is Bothering Them
If you’re wondering, “Why do dogs rub their face out of the blue?” it might be because you bought them a new collar. Dogs are smart and can feel the difference in the material or weight of a new collar. So, they may just be testing it out, or they may not like the sensation of it around their neck.
Alternatively, your dog’s fur might be itchy under their collar, or the collar could be too tight.
Even if you took great care figuring out how tight to put their collar around your dog’s neck, changes such as a puppy growing or a dog gaining weight can all affect it.
According to veterinarian Dr. Jess, you should be able to slip your index and middle fingers beneath the collar. If you do so and feel a moderate amount of pressure, the collar fits right.
Reason 5: They Want to Mark Their Territory
We usually think of dogs marking their territory by peeing, but they also do so using their face.
The reason being is that dogs have glands on their faces, which leaves pheromones on the carpet, wooden floor, and grass that your dog uses to rub their face.
You might never look at your dog rubbing their face on you the same again—they could be trying to show that they own you, especially if other attention-hungry dogs happen to be around.
Reason 6: They Have a Brain Tumor
If you’re wondering, “Why do dogs rub their face on the ground, and could it be because of a health issue?” the answer might sadly be yes.
- Wobbling when moving
- Tilting their head
- Sensitivity around their neck
- Turning in circles
So, if you notice that your dog is showing one or more of these behaviors in addition to rubbing their face on the ground, it’s best to take them to the veterinarian.
Reason 7: They Have an Earache
Luckily, not all health issues related to a dog rubbing their face on the floor is dire news. Instead, your dog might have an earache, causing them to relieve the pain they feel by rubbing their face on the floor.
Infections are among the most common sources of earaches in dogs, with symptoms including:
- Redness inside of the ear
- A rotten smell coming from the ear
- Discharge from the ear (usually yellow, brown, or bloody)
- Pawing at the ear
According to researchers, dogs with long, floppy ears have a higher susceptibility to ear infections than those with pointy ears. So, Basset Hounds, Golden Retrievers, and Labradoodles are all at-risk breeds for contracting ear infections.
Reason 8: They Need More Calcium
Calcium intake isn’t a primary concern for the average dog owner, as dog food typically contains the daily amount needed. However, certain illnesses can lead to calcium deficiency, including kidney or parathyroid gland failure.
Low calcium in dogs can cause them to become itchy. Therefore, they may rub their face—and whole body—on the floor.
Other signs that your dog could be suffering from a calcium deficiency include:
- Muscle twitching
You’ll likely also notice your dog being lethargic. Should you suspect that your dog lacks calcium, taking them to the vet is your best option. A routine blood test will be able to determine your dog’s calcium levels.
Reason 9: They Like the Smell of Something
If you’re wondering, “Why do dogs rub their faces on the floor?” it could be as simple as your dog being able to appreciate a good smell.
Of course, what smells good to your pooch isn’t always attractive to us.
So, don’t be surprised if you catch your dog rubbing its face in a spot where another pooch went to the bathroom or even over a dead animal on the ground.
Your dog’s sense of smell is unparalleled to yours. They have as many as 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses compared to a human’s mere six million.
To put that into perspective, dogs can detect what would be the equivalent of ½ teaspoon of sugar in a swimming pool—and an Olympic-sized one at that. Needless to say, you can imagine your dog’s pleasure when they can get their noses close to the lovely thing they smell.
Reason 10: They Have Dental Pain
Just like an earache, your dog may be rubbing their face because of a tooth problem.
Many factors can cause canine dental pain, including endodontic disease, gum disease, and cavities. The individual symptoms may vary depending on the type of dental issue your dog has, but below are some common signs to watch for.
- Chews on one side of their mouth
- Extra bad breath
- Blood in their saliva
- Lip licking
You should bring your dog to the vet if you suspect they are suffering from dental pain.
From there, set up a regular tooth brushing regime for your dog. As well, consider dental chews and chew toys as these can be excellent tools for preventing future teeth problems.
Reason 11: They’re Having Fun
Finally, when you’re wondering “Why do dogs rub their face?” it could be as innocuous as your dog having fun.
Like humans, dogs can appreciate different textured materials. So, they may find one that’s particularly fun to rub against—especially if it offers a massage-like effect.
It’s common for dogs to rub their faces after eating. While this has practical purposes, such as cleaning crumbs or dislodging a piece of food stuck in their tooth, your dog might be doing this to express their pleasure from having eaten.
Your dog might also rub their face as a game. That could especially be the case if you’ve reacted positively to them doing it in the past. They want to please you and get praise, so they’ll repeat the action that sparked it.
Conclusion for Why Do Dogs Rub Their Face?
Careful observation of your dog will help reveal the cause of why your dog is rubbing their face. While many harmless reasons exist for face rubbing, some situations will require medical attention.
With that in mind, if you suspect that your dog is rubbing their face for health reasons, it’s always a good idea to take them to the vet as a precaution. It’s worth it for your reassurance as well as your dog’s happiness and health.
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Garrett loves animals and is a huge advocate for all Doodle dog breeds. He owns his own Goldendoodle named Kona. In addition, he volunteers at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, where he fosters dogs and helps animals. Garrett enjoys writing about Doodles and believes that dogs can teach humans more about how to live than humans can teach a dog.
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